Instagram_Advertising_body.jpgby Jennifer Shaheen.

Instagram is an important social media network for small business owners who are trying to reach young adult customers. According to the Pew Research Center for Internet, Science, and Technology, more than half of people aged 18 to 29 use Instagram; half of those people log in at least daily.

Advertising opportunities now exist on Instagram, but to be successful, ads must blend seamlessly into the platform’s unique aesthetic and prevailing cultural norms. The goal is to have an ad that looks like native content—in other words the type of post other Instagram users are posting for fun. This can place some demands on you, creatively, but when done correctly, can be worth it.

Why advertise on Instagram?

Amanda Connolly, writing for The Next Web, reports that Instagram is in its “Golden Age”—a period of time equivalent to the first days of television, where viewers truly appreciated all of the content presented to them, even commercials. Ads on Instagram are seen as less invasive and more personal than those encountered on other social media platforms. These factors, combined with the relatively novel nature of ads on Instagram, has resulted in click through rates nearly twice as high as what similar campaigns were achieving on Facebook.

Instagram_Advertising_PQ.jpgRobust advertising tools

Instagram is owned by Facebook, and as such, has a shared advertising interface that offers small business owners a number of formatting and targeting options for their campaign. To get started, you’ll need to link your Instagram account to your Facebook account. This is accomplished by going to the settings tab on your Facebook Business Page and clicking on Instagram Ads. There you can then link your Instagram account.

All Facebook accounts include access to the Power Editor. There, you have three types of ad objectives to choose from: click to your website, watch a video, or install an app. Ad types to achieve these objectives include image, video, and carousel—a series of images displayed in succession. Each comes with a call to action button keyed to your desired objective.

Ads can be targeted by location, gender, income level, and more. Additionally, using popular Instagram hashtags like #TBT (Throwback Thursday) or #MotivationMonday can boost the number of interested users who come across your ad while they’re exploring. Instagram posts do better organically when you use 11 or more hashtags so keep up with your Instagram best practices.

Instagram advertising works best when it enhances and extends your existing Instagram presence. Focus on building rapport with followers there. Creating ads that are in alignment with what those users expect from your small business brand can help boost the effectiveness of your marketing and attract more followers.

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